Barack Obama says Jeff Bezos should worry about Earth before space. But Bezos says going to space is how you save Earth.

  • Barack Obama recently chastised Silicon Valley tycoons looking at space exploration to save humanity.

  • The former president said focusing on saving Earth was the best bet for now.

  • But Jeff Bezos argues that the best way to save Earth is to turn to space.

Barack Obama and Jeff Bezos are at loggerheads on how ambitious goalposts to colonize the solar system will affect Earth's future.

The former US president recently chastised Silicon Valley tycoons for investing in projects with an aim to send humans to live off-world.

Elon Musk, for example, launched his aerospace company, SpaceX, with a roughly $100 million investment of his personal funds. And Jeff Bezos has most likely invested between $7.5 billion and $20 billion in his own aerospace company, Blue Origin.

"I would rather us invest in taking care of this planet here," Obama said at the opening of the 2024 POwR Earth Summit in Paris last week.

"When I hear some of the people talk about the plan to colonize Mars because the Earth environment may become so degraded that it becomes unliveable, I look at them like, what are you talking about?" Obama said.

Bezos, on the other hand, has said that going to space is the best way to continue humanity's growth while preserving the planet's natural resources.

"In almost every way, life is better for almost everyone today than it was, say, 50 years ago or 100 years ago," Bezos said in an interview with the podcaster Lex Fridman in December. Bezos didn't respond to a request for comment from Business Insider on Obama's point of view.

Bezos cited literacy, poverty, and infant-mortality rates as examples of humanity's progress. But he said that humanity's progress was to the detriment of planet Earth.

"There's one thing that is moving backwards, and it's the natural world," Bezos told Fridman. "We have traded some of that pristine beauty for all of these other gifts that we have as an advanced society. And we can have both, but to do that, we have to go to space."

The billionaire, who cofounded Blue Origin, a space-exploration company that aims to launch its New Glenn mega-rocket on its maiden voyage by the third quarter of this year, laid out his vision for the future of a space-conquering people in his interview with Fridman.

Unlike Elon Musk, who sees humans colonizing Mars as their next venture, Bezos sees more potential in space stations.

His plan is for humans to choose whether to live on Earth or in large space stations near Earth. Resources needed for humanity's expansion could be drawn from the asteroid belt and near-Earth objects, protecting what remains on Earth.

Humans living near Earth could then opt to visit the planet on holiday in the "same way that you might go to Yellowstone National Park for vacation," he said.

"I would love to see a trillion humans living in the solar system. If we had a trillion humans, we would have, at any given time, 1,000 Mozarts and 1,000 Einsteins," he said.

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